Will Greek Life Ever Return to MCLA?

Nicole Lemire and Jaden Jackson

Over a year after MCLA’s decision to ban Greek organizations from campus, students involved with Greek Life are speaking out about how this impacted them, as well as the future of Greek Life.

On September 9, 2021, the college announced their decision to officially unaffiliate their two undergraduate Greek organizations, the sorority Beta Lambda and the fraternity Pi Upsilon Pi after 12 years of affiliation. According to the college, the decision came after numerous inconsistencies in meeting requirements set by the college throughout the years.

In a statement released to the campus community, the college stated, “It is this inconsistency that resulted in a fragile support system, leading to students not being fully aware of their obligations and accountability as Greek letter organizations, not understanding who and where to receive accurate information and training, and ultimately making the best decisions they knew how. Those decisions have brought us to a point where the college now fully understands the compliance issues and from a liability and risk standpoint, must act.”

For these organizations, a loss of school affiliation means that they are no longer able to use on campus resources as a recruitment tool, such as tabling at campus events or advertising themselves as being related to MCLA in any way.

In an interview with the Beacon, Pi Upsilon Pi President Jack Anderson ‘23 and Vice President Brandon Murray ‘23 spoke about the impacts of being stripped of their affiliation, and how their organization has continued to exist post severance with the school.

When asked what benefits being school affiliated granted them, Murray said, “Being able to publicize on campus, through events like the annual ice cream social, was really the main thing with being school affiliated.”

Public awareness is of course incredibly important to Greek organizations, as new members are often found at events like the previously mentioned ice cream social. Pi Upsilon Pi has found a way to circumvent this issue through the use of social networking on campus.

Anderson spoke about keeping Pi Upsilon Pi alive without school affiliation, “Not being affiliated is not that big of a deal. Just because we are no longer a part of campus, does not mean we can’t spread through word of mouth.” Pi Upsilon Pi currently has fifteen active brothers, six of whom joined within this current academic year.

The Beacon reached out to the sisters of Beta Lambda, however, they declined to comment on the situation.

In addition to Beta Lambda and Pi Upsilon Pi, there are several other existing Greek organizations that never had a school affiliation but were also impacted by the college’s decision. These organizations are the fraternity Sigma Chi Beta and sororities Sigma Gamma Phi, Kappa Omicron, and Pi Upsilon Omega.

Ian Crombie ‘23, President of Sigma Chi Beta, spoke to the Beacon about how the fraternity felt the effects of this decision.

“It kind of had a secondhand effect because as organizations, we work together on events,” said Crombie. “So [Pi Upsilon Pi and Beta Lambda] losing the resources of affiliation really affected our ability to run events too since we would sometimes use their resources.”

The sisters of Kappa Omicron agreed with this sentiment, stating that the Greek Life ban has made it more difficult for all organizations to recruit new members, since many new students are unaware of Greek Life. Kappa President Skylah Zayas ‘24 described her disappointment with the decision, claiming that she believes that Greek Life is an important aspect to campus culture that provides community and networking opportunities for students.

“Greek Life can be a breath of fresh air for a lot of people,” Zayas said. “When I joined Kappa, I found my community. My sorority sisters have provided me with more support and opportunity than the school has.”

The college’s decision to ban Greek Life was presented as being a pause in activity rather than a permanent ban, with the school being open to potentially bring back Greek organizations in the future. As a result, a Greek Life Committee was formed with the intention to “undergo a scholarly inquiry about the college’s capacity and student interest in building a strong structure of support to maintain a thriving Greek Life community,” according to the committee’s charge statement.

Several of the aforementioned organizations, including Kappa Omicron, Sigma Chi Beta, and Sigma Gamma Phi, expressed interest in becoming school affiliated if the opportunity were to arise. Kappa’s New Member Educator Kaity Reil ‘23 stated that she had a meeting with members of administration to discuss the possibility of becoming affiliated, but nothing came of it.

The President of the Sigma Chi Beta’s sister organization, Sigma Gamma Phi, V Escobedo Herrera 26’ had this to say about the potential of her organization becoming school affiliated, “We would be really excited if we were given the chance to become school affiliated. The program that we run could be greatly enhanced and grow so much if we had school support!”

At this time, the Greek Life Committee is considered inactive, as multiple attempts to reach committee members by the college were left unanswered. Therefore, there are no plans in progress about the return of Greek Life, and the committee must be reactivated and follow the college’s governance process in order to do so.